VFC sign Cuban volleyball coaches in SEA Games push

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The signing ceremony at the Volleyball Federation of Cambodia (VFC) headquarters at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh on September 16. SUPPLIED

The Volleyball Federation of Cambodia (VFC) on September 16 signed two experienced Cuban coaches to join the Kingdom’s national indoor and beach volleyball teams.

With the addition of the two new coaches, the federation expressed confidence at being best prepared to win gold medals at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 2023, which Cambodia is hosting for the first time in its history

During the signing ceremony at the VFC headquarters in Phnom Penh, Karell Pena Ventoza was appointed beach volleyball team head coach and Berto Friol Barrios indoor volleyball team assistant coach.

The signing was presided over by VFC secretary-general Aing Serey Piseth, with technical official Leonid Abum Castillo representing the Cubans.

Cuban ambassador to Cambodia Liurka Rodriguez Barrios also witnessed the ceremony.

“With the help of the Cuban ambassador, we have signed contracts with Karell Pena Ventoza to become men’s beach volleyball coach and Berto Friol Barrios as assistant men’s volleyball team coach,” Serey Piseth said.

The signing the two Cuban coaches on one-year contracts came after VFC technical staff evaluated their abilities in pilot training more than a week ago.

“After reviewing techniques and approaches, the federation – under the leadership of National Police chief General Neth Savoeun as president and [education ministry secretary of state] Sar Sokha as vice-president – accepted the two Cuban coaches as we work towards a single goal with the ambition of winning gold medals at the 32nd SEA Games.”

“I believe that with these two new coaches, we will have a better chance of competing for gold at the 2023 SEA Games in Cambodia,” Serey Piseth said.

Pena Ventoza will be working with their Cambodian counterparts as the head coach of the beach volleyball team, while Friol Barrios will be assisting the indoor volleyball team’s Chinese head coach Li Jun.

Li recently led the Cambodian national team to a historic bronze medal at the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam in May of this year.

Serey Piseth said that while the Cambodian volleyball players are already skilled, the incorporation of new techniques from coaches from different countries with different styles of training and abilities will bring significant improvement.

“What the Chinese coach has, the Cuban may not; what the Cuban coach has, the Chinese coach may not have; and what they do not have, our Cambodian coaches may have.

“In putting these coaches together, I believe that the gap between our players and those of the region will get smaller quickly.

“What our players need is more training, so in the last eight or nine months before the Games begin, I believe that the coaches can improve the quality of the players as the leaders of our federation want,” he said.

Serey Piseth added that through the ambassador, Cambodia will organise a friendly match with a team from Cuba, to be held in October, to strengthen the abilities of the Kingdom’s volleyballers as they plot a golden trajectory to success at the 2023 SEA Games.